Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled
And the silk in a chestnut shell
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well
So I mustn’t forget
No, I mustn’t forget
To say a great big thank you
No, I mustn’t forget
It was only when humming this primary-school song on the way to work that I realised it’s not about autumn at all, but gratitude. Either way, why a seven-year-old would be thankful for the refuelling of jet planes is beyond me, in hindsight. A case of Think Of A Rhyme, Any Rhyme on the part of the author, I reckon.
Jet planes aside, there’s a great deal to be thankful for now that autumn has arrived. Some examples that occur to me are:
1) The smell of bonfires drifting on cold, late-night air.
2) The glorious, russet-red leaves of a particular line of trees at the entrance to Milton Park. With the early-morning sun behind me, they outline themselves in fiery brilliance as I round the corner. Worth an intake of breath most mornings.
3) The fact that my favourite foods become fashionable again in cold weather. Stews, shepherd’s pies, roast dinners and all manner of pudding-and-custard combinations are suddenly on everyone’s menus, so I don’t feel like such a gravy-hogger.
4) Finally, and most fabulously, the BBC’s Saturday evening camp-fest Merlin is back on our television screens. The teenaged wizard Merlin acts as the reluctant servant of Prince Arthur, secretly fending off various beasts and perils under the benevolent, cross-eyed gaze of Gaius, the castle’s medicine man, and occasionally wandering into the castle’s crumbling cellar to chat to John Hurt the Dragon about his destiny. Giles from Buffy also makes berobed appearances as Uther Pendragon, whose main function is to outlaw sorcery in Camelot and give orders that directly contradict what the rest of the cast are thinking. Some might say that the bad acting, bad scripting, and awful CGI detract from the series’ enjoyment; the initiated know better, of course: they only add to its endearing charm. In the episode we watched last night, Mackenzie Crook got possessed by an ancient sorcerer, put on a raven feather jumper that made him look like a tar-coated Big Bird, and made a lot of castle gargoyles come to life and ravage the town. As this is before the watershed, we weren’t allowed to see anyone get disembowelled with angry stone claws, so instead a lot of townspeople were menaced to death, before Merlin came to the rescue. Classic stuff. The overly dramatic theme tune can even be sung through a mouthful of couscous. And we have it on good authority from the series preview that at some point in a future episode, someone will say the wonderful line: ‘I’m afraid, Sire, that your bride is… a troll’.
The run-up to Christmas looks bright, doesn’t it?